by Ashley Martin
Intense fighting between Syrian Armed Forces and rebel groups continued in Aleppo late Tuesday, as humanitarian agencies and aid organizations urged both sides to the conflict to allow for the evacuation of civilian trapped in combat zones.
The Syrian air force has reportedly continued its bombing of neighborhoods in Aleppo, the country’s most populated city, as both government troops and rebel groups claim to be gaining the upper hand in the fight for the important commercial hub.
According to media reports more than 15 000 civilians have sought refuge in the city’s schools and mosques and residents are now faced with widespread food and gas shortages. The Local Coordination Committees of Syria are reporting that at 49 people, including members of the Free Syrian Army, were killed in fighting through out country Tuesday, with nearly half of the casualties coming from Aleppo.
European Union Commissioner for International Humanitarian Aid Kristalina Georgieva noted that international humanitarian law required Government troops and opposition forces to ensure the protection of non-combatants, especially women and children.
“Civilians in Syria must be given the possibility to leave the areas of fighting in an organized and safe manner without having to fear for their life.” she said in a statement Tuesday.
UN agencies are also increasingly concerned by the growing number of civilians fleeing Syria’s urban areas for neighboring countries.Turkey says it has so far been providing shelter to more than 44 000 Syrian citizens in eight different tent and container “cities” near Hatay, Gaziantep, Kilis and Sanliurfa.
In Jordan, international aid organization are helping the government relocate refugees from overcrowded camps and establish new facilities. Initial estimates indicate that over 100 000 Syrian are now in Jordan, although only about a third of them have officially been registered.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees over the weekend opened a new of camp in Za’atri, Norther Jordan that would be able host up to 10,000 displaced people. The UN Central Emergency Response Fund has also helped UNHCR establish a clinic at Za’atri. Two IOM mobile medical teams with ten doctors and five nurses are working to provide 24 hour a day primary health care to residents.
“Our objective is to work with the Jordanian government and our humanitarian partners to ensure that Syrians fleeing the conflict can live in safety and dignity in Jordan until they are able to return home.” David Terzi, the head of the International Organization for Migration mission in Jordan said in a statement Monday. On average, 1500 refugees have arrived mostly from southern Syria near Da’raa on a daily basis since the escalation of violence, although officials have noted an increase in refugees from Damascus in recent weeks.
Meanwhile more that 34,096 Syrians refugees are currently in Lebanon, the majority of whom have fled from Damascus and Homs, as Lebanese authorities and UN agencies are drafting a contingency plan to prepare for the continued influx of people.
Over 8500 Syrians have also sought refuge in the Northern Kurdish region of Iraq, where the UN High Commission for Refugees is helping authorities establish transit and assistance centers at the borders.